Wednesday, May 22, 2024

National Exercise Day: Want to stay fit? Here are ways you can reach the recommended goal

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Meeting the government’s official goals for staying fit – 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week – can seem daunting. These tips can help.

Today is National Exercise Day, a day to encourage and celebrate physical activity.

The sun is out, temperatures are rising and many of us are embracing the outdoors after being cooped up all winter. Exercising is a great way to get outside, so it’s no wonder National Exercise Day comes in the spring and is celebrated annually on April 18.

But you don’t have to go on big outdoor adventures to get in your recommended activity time.

We’ve all heard of the 10,000 steps a day exercise metric. But at the equivalent of five miles, it might be too big of a goal to achieve.

Official government guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week for adults. Thankfully, there are many ways to get moving in your everyday life.

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Officials recommend 150 minutes of activity a week with 2 strength training days

USA TODAY previously interviewed Dr. Katrina Piercy, a director in the Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. She works on the physical activity guidelines, using science about physical activity and health outcomes to recommend exercise.

The science says adults should be getting 150 minutes weekly of moderate intensity aerobic activity a week, with two days of muscle-strengthening activity.

Piercy says even that can seem like a lot, but the evidence suggests it doesn’t have to be walking or running, or even in big, consistent chunks throughout the week.

“There’s many people that may enjoy going to the gym and might, you know, go for an hour run. But many are not,” she said. “They might have five minutes here, 10 minutes there. And all of that adds up.”

Some everyday activities can contribute to aerobic goals

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The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has created a “Move Your Way” activity planner that provides suggestions for activities that people may not think of as exercise.

Here are some activities you could include, especially if they make your heart beat faster:

  • Active video games
  • Dancing
  • Household chores
  • Yoga
  • Yard work
  • Taking the stairs
  • Walking or running with a stroller

Surprising ways to fit in strength training

Piercy said finding small ways to incorporate activity and strength training into your everyday life can make the 150-minute per week goal seep more attainable. For example, you could decide to use a basket at the grocery store rather than a cart for a few minutes of strength training.

Here are some other activities that count as muscle-strengthening, according to Move Your Way:

  • Mowing the lawn with a push mower
  • Shoveling snow
  • Rock climbing
  • Gardening and weeding
  • Home repairs

Recommendations could change based on your age

Move Your Way also provides recommendations for various populations.

For example, older adults should mix in balancing activities and kids and teens need 60 minutes of activity a day.

Piercy emphasized that some movement and activity is better than none. So if people just start tracking how many minutes of activity they get per week, then that can help them improve little-by-little.

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